Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Flogger Blogger Wednesday: Blogging While Buzzed

Welcome to the second installment of Flogger Blogger Wednesday. Sit back and enjoy the public self-flaggelation (if you're into that kinda thing) or just put the "miserate" in "commiserate" as you see shades of your own failure in my tales of guilt and shame.

This week, I wanted to tell you a story, to write something funny but with a literary flourish, to be both self-deprecating and honest, to make you feel feelings and stuff. So I got up in the wee hours of the morning. I brewed an extra-large pot of inspirational coffee. I fired up the laptop. I called forth the muse. And then I took some quizzes.

BuzzFeed. God. Damn. BuzzFeed.

Apparently, I couldn't waste one more minute of my life without knowing who my fashion icon is (Solange Knowles) or what European country I should live in (Malta? What's "Malta"?) or which Wu Tang Clan member I am (duh, Ol' Dirty Bastard, may he rest in peace).

Despite obvious signs of choking on my deadline, I just kept cramming junk into my face. I shouldn't be surprised, really, that the answer to the quiz "Are You Going to Hell?" was "Congratulations! You are going to Hell!"

So let's just forget about literature and honesty and emotions. Instead, I give you:

10 Things I Should Be Doing Instead of Reading BuzzFeed

  1. Reading about Malta, because I had no idea Malta was a for-real place
  2. Taking something to counteract the chocolate-frosted donut I ate for breakfast, like a probiotic maybe or a bagel
  3. Stopping my kid from eating the floor Cheerios
  4. Convincing the dog to eat the floor Cheerios
  5. Paying a bill probably
  6. Putting on pants
  7. Getting the xylophone and wooden spoon out of my kid's hands before I have a psychotic break
  8. Making a list that's actually helpful, like a grocery list or a hit list
  9. Coming up with a 9th thing
  10. Let's see what's new on BuzzFeed
I'll see you in a week, my friends, when Flogger Blogger Wednesday returns. Or I'll see you in Hell. Your choice.

Monday, February 24, 2014

You're Doing It Wrong

There's been a lot of kumbaya mommy business hitting the Internet of late. Mothers are raising their collective voices to say, "Hey, we may approach motherhood differently, but we're all in this together. Watch us film this touching viral video while hugging. As of today, motherhood is a Judgement-Free Zone."

Mmm-hmm. Just like how school is a "drug-free zone."

There are co-sleeping parents, homeschooling parents, cry-it-out parents, attachment parenting parents, free-range parents, non-GMO and hormone-free parents. And, frankly, you all sound batshit crazy to me. Because, yes, I'm judging you.

Before the Sisterhood of the Elasticized Pants comes for me in the night though, let me ask this: Why do you care if I or any other mom is judging you? I think lots of things are crazy, like decaf coffee and people who touch bugs. Check it out: I may be the only person in the English-speaking world who doesn't understand the appeal of The Princess Bride. Frankly, I prefer Robin Wright's character in House of Cards. That alone could merit a visit from Child Protective Services. Do you enjoy The Princess Bride and fondling spiders? Well, there, there. Rest assured that you are the better person.

I think we do ourselves (and even our kids) a diservice to suggest that judging is inherently wrong. We use judgement to make sound decisions. For example, I think most professional body builders look like a hot dog the minute before it explodes in the microwave. Thanks to judgement, I will never take up body building, and have thus avoided a life of steroid injections, spray tans, and exercise.

It's when we start believing that our judgements are the gospel truth that we get into trouble. It's when we prop up our self-worth by foisting our judgements on others that we pave the road to crazy town. Do you get what I'm saying? My bulging hotdog may be your powerful beefy treat, and that's okay. Just, ya know, shut the hell up about it.

Because you may not be able to fathom why anyone would use cloth diapers or opt for formula or feed her son so much birthday cake that he goes on a vision quest . . .

. . . but I bet you can remember the days when you would do anything for an hour of sleep, when you felt so clueless and afraid that you binged on shoddily written parenting blogs, when everyone in your house was sick and the dog needed to be walked and it had snowed and you were out of toilet paper. You did what you had to do in whatever way you had to do it. 

So, when I hear you telling your shy little girl that she's a "pretty, pretty princess," I'll stifle my urge to add, "or a pretty awesome political scientist!" And when you see me slipping my 1-year-old a few spoonfuls of ice cream to ease the teething blues, I'd rather you not suggest I reexamine my relationship with refined sugar (which, by the way, is the most enduring relationship of my life). We are doing what we have to do, even if we're doing it all wrong.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I'd Better Learn to Like Fruit Cups

Parenting is the original Ponzi scheme. Moms, dads, chumps: it's all the same. We feed, clothe, and house our kids for 30 years (it's 30 years now, right?), and in exchange, we hope those same kids don't ship us off to some joint called Mercy Ridge the minute we start eating Cream of Wheat for breakfast.

Beyond the drive to sustain the species, form families, experience unconditional love, blah, blah, blah, blah, why do we do it? Well, not unlike like many blood-thirsty predators, our kids are cute when they're young. 

My son is a year old, and his head is so big that I'm surprised light can escape its gravitational pull. He has Liz Taylor-esque eyelashes, and he says "bopBOP!" when he means "no." He also lacks the strength to fight me when I, strictly for example, want to dress him in a penguin hat and tiny red bow tie. It's like owning a real, live Monchichi.

Last weekend, my husband and I took Pork Chop (our son's street name) to my friend Kate's house for a play date with her daughter, Eva. And because it had snowed for the 529th time this god-forsaken winter, Kate suggested we drag the kids around on a sled. 

Clomping around in packed, calf-deep snow with two toddlers sounded super-duper fun times to me, but I explained that we had left our son's snow suit at Buy Buy Baby, where we never bought it. No problem, said Kate, we could use Eva's old snow suit. 

And that's how this happened:

My husband took this picture, but I'm the one responsible for putting Pork Chop in the suit. In fact, those are my boots in the background, fleeing the scene. That look on my kid's face? It says, "Lady, you may have given birth to me. You may have fed me from your own body. You may have accidentally eaten my booger when you thought it was just pear smeared on my cheek that one time. But, so help me, when I get out of this cotton candy nightmare, you're going straight to The Home!"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Flogger Blogger Wednesday

Having been raised in a big Catholic family, I am basically a perpetual guilt machine. There are so many things about which I feel shame that it's a wonder I don't self-combust.

  • Did I eat cookies for breakfast? Guilty. 
  • Did I eat cookies for breakfast in front of my 1-year-old son? Sinner.
  • Did I eat cookies for breakfast in front of my son and then offer him a cookie because I felt guilty about hogging them all? Purgatory.
  • Did I eat cookies for breakfast in front of my son and then offer him a cookie because I felt guilty about hogging them all and did I then feel guilty that I gave him a cookie so I made him eat nutritious apple slices, which he hates, while I ate a chocolate truffle to calm my nerves? Jesus wept.
I once stuck a post-it note on my dashboard that read, simply, "Quilt"-- a reminder to stop by the dry cleaners after work to pick up bedding. At lunchtime, I drove to Popeye's for lunch (Repent) with a coworker, who noticed the little yellow note.

"Does that say 'guilt'?" he asked. 

"No," I replied, confused, "It says 'quilt.' As in, 'pick up a quilt from the dry cleaners.'" 

"Oh." He seemed disappointed, but quickly added, "Because it would be just like you to remind yourself to feel guilty for something."

To this day, whenever I go down the rabbit hole of shame, that same coworker will lean in and, with a stern look, say, "Remember the guilt. Remember. The. Guilt."

But my guilt list grows by the hour and the post-it notes are doing a number on my carbon footprint (Remorse), so I am dedicating Wednesday to public self-flagellation. Welcome to Flogger Blogger Wednesdays, because being an asshole is a lot more enjoyable when you know you aren't the only one.

Let me get the ball rolling by saying that I feel guilty for posting this so late in the day. It's barely Wednesday any more. But there are lots of words up there above this paragraph. So, although I feel like a total loser for leaving it at this, this is, in fact, where I'm leaving it. I need to eat dinner. My husband is staring at me over a bowl of cooling pasta. Pasta that he cooked while I typed. Because I'm a terrible cook.

I'm going to Hell.

Turning This Mother Out

You barely know me, I get that. I've only been here for a few days, Internet. But I've got exciting news (exciting to me right now, exciting to you once you get to know me better and realize that I'm good for cheap laughs). The folks over at Listen to Your Mother DC have cast me in their show. You can check out their web page if you don't believe me:

And, no, they did not have a collective stroke. No, I didn't threaten or bribe them. And, let's be honest, even though auditions were held in a hotel room, I'm just not that sexy.

I had to sell them on pure, unadulterated talent. Using my kid for poop story fodder may have helped.

Speaking of bartering my child's dignity for a shot at stardom, a friend suggested that my son might never forgive me for selling him out. Notably, this friend does not have kids. Suffice it to say that this same friend does not have a navel that looks clinically depressed, does not keep Boogie Wipes in her handbag, and does not use fart noises to impress her associates. So I calmly explained to this friend that I would never forgive my son for coming out of my vagina. But, thanks to this show, my son and I are, like my vagina, now square.

Check out Listen to Your Mother DC on May 4! I am genuinely humbled to be a part of the cast and genuinely concerned that I might have a more horrifying and personal pooping story to tell once I am forced to confront my stage fright.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I'll Sleep When You're Dead

Last year, when I was 8 months pregnant and filled with new parent anticipation, my New Year’s resolution was to be The Best Mom That I Can Be TM. And to read one book every month. This year, with a toddler hellbent on crawling into our fireplace and eating the dog’s tail like a cob of corn, my approach is more pragmatic: take at least two showers per week, find a respectable replacement for my maternity underpants, and listen to less Top 40 radio while the kid is in the car. Because I know exactly what rhymes with "hug me," and my son isn't ready for the slant rhyme conversation. More than a few friends and family members, however, have declared that, in 2014, they resolve to get more sleep. I remember getting sleep, but at some point in the last year, sleep dug a hole under the fence, caught a whiff of squirrels and freedom, and made a run for it. In short, sleep got away, and despite numerous sightings in the area, it has yet to come home. As parents, we are the boo-boo kissers, the chefs and the busboys, the toxic waste cleanup crew, the heavy lifters, the teachers, the taxis, the human burp cloths, the referees, and, ironically, the nap enforcers. After the brimming diapers have been changed and the tater tots fished from between the sofa cushions, nothing seems more heart-wrenchingly luxurious than an uninterrupted span of 8 hours curled in bed. But our kids don’t give a crap. Life is new to them and the days are only so long. Why nap, let alone sleep through the night, when they could be karate chopping a stuffed dinosaur or not latching properly at 3 a.m. or having a meltdown while you're trying to write and thus crushing your dream of becoming blog famous? My own son recently started waking at night to let me know that his BFF (a drool-soaked plush elephant) is just outside of his reach. He lets me know by screaming. Not crying. Just plain old run-quick-because-I'm-probably-being-exsanguinated screaming. This happens only once or twice per night, but coupled with his firm stance against naps, I'm clocking 4 hours or less of snooze time at a clip. And I'm one of the lucky ones. Because I planned to breastfeed, in the months leading up to my son’s birth, I grew increasingly terrified at the prospect of long boozeless nights stretching into grim decaffeinated mornings. My oldest friend, a mom of two, told me that my body would naturally adjust to the new sleep schedule. This same friend enjoys soy milk and backpacking, so I discounted her advice because she’s obviously into some deeply masochistic shit. Then my sister, who is 6 years younger but 3 kids wiser than me, also tried to quell my fears. "You'll do fine. My kids are great sleepers," she said, quickly adding, "I mean, Ben gets up at 5 every morning, but we're used to it now. And Ellen, my god, she keeps climbing into bed with us in the middle of the night. I've been sleeping on her floor just to make sure she stays in her own room. Eugene is a good sleeper too, but he gets up earlier than Ben." Like I said, I'm one of the lucky ones. Yet, at dawn on a Saturday morning, when I'm stumbling around the kitchen, putting kibble on the highchair tray and Cheerios in the dog’s bowl, I feel less lucky than exhausted. And while my husband, a great partner and an awesome dad, snoozes until a sumptuous 7:30, I sometimes think, "I am so blessed," but more often I think, "divorce." And in the afternoon, when my son rails against a nap, screaming, turning purple, kicking the slats of his crib, I remind myself that these precious childhood days will pass so quickly. Or, at least, that’s what everyone keeps promising. So maybe I do "get" sleep. I get that anyone who uses the phrase "sleep like a baby" has actually never met a real live baby. I get that, after 20 hours without sleep, I sometimes cry while watching Antiques Roadshow. I get that the military uses sleep deprivation training to toughen up Navy SEALs. I get it. Now come home, sleep. I've got a warm bed waiting for you.